MISS COMMUNICATION

I love playing with words.  This week, words played me and got the best of me.

I received some initial feedback on a “project presentation” that I invested a lot of hope, time, passion, prayers and energy into. I felt so grateful to hear back yet, at the same time, I  delicately danced around the carefully crafted word jumble dropped at my feet. My brain projected the narrowest and grandest vision for what they stood for but refused to believe any of it knowing that the unspoken words carried equal weight. I did not know which of the answers to carry with me.

Before I realized what was happening, hope flooded my chest, quickly drained and pooled everywhere else in my body. The redistribution of weight flattened any spring in my step. I feared the power of speaking about this project anticipating that the universe’s charge would reverse and rip this new project from my hands.

One day I walked so far away from a direct route to get lunch so I didn’t pass the building that holds those involved with this new project for fear that words would betray me without proper context. I did not want to appear Awkward by asking something that I know they cannot answer yet. Turns out, the universe put me right in the direct path despite my detour and I found myself face-to-face with a group member.

Now, being surprised and starving (after inadvertently intermittently fasting for the last 18 hours) I don’t remember what I said, but for a moment a clear message got through: Imposter Syndrome! Now usually my coworker and I joke about having this several times a week when any new challenge walks into our office but this episode was a full -blown case!

Thankfully I recall a 60-second talk on this from one of our dynamo professors Dr. Angélica Gutiérrez. Until I study her articles and take her full seminar on this, it was enough to help me start down the road to confronting it and getting rid of it.

As for the project. When I find the right words, you’ll be the first to know!

What about you?
Have you ever experienced Imposter Syndrome?
What did you do to get around it?
How do you calm your anxiety or nerves when facing a challenge?

#ImposterSyndrome #Anxiety #Challenge #BePresent #BeMindful #MindfulMidlife #Blogtober #MakesMeWander

WRITING FULL-CIRCLE WITH MY FIRST MENTOR

When asked what I would do if I knew I could not fail, the answer is: Write. When asked how I wound up here, the answer slowly takes shape. From a very young age, I just really dug the vibe of the few writers I met. One of my favorite childhood books, contained a personalized note from the author and, though I never met her, I felt instantly plugged in on that wavelength. It felt magical to me to read books then see the picture of the solitary author and know that they created something that people everywhere would enjoy. I also loved reading!

By Gary Bradshaw

I do not recall spending hours crafting original stories while growing up (besides the fantasies I wrote in my diary). I know I suffer from an overactive imagination. After a near-miss in an intersection, I sit and play all the “what if” outcomes in my mind in slow motion but try to stop myself so I don’t actually put those images into the universe (so they won’t really happen) all before I get to the end of that same block. I tend to look towards the horizon with a kaleidoscope rather than a telescope!

The first time I felt the depth of writing happened in a high school writing class where we practiced and analyzed various styles of writing. From there I rolled into AP English taught by one of my favorite teachers (and already my yearbook advisor) Gary Bradshaw.  I dug his vibe! He was a unicycle-riding, poetry-writing surfer! I felt like he absorbed the work I turned in – and any of my classmates’ conversations – differently than anyone else. After one particular essay “The Piano” that I cashed in every opportunity to rewrite (inching towards an “A”), I exasperatedly asked how to know what an “A” paper requires? His totally zen response to me: “When your writing piece is done, you’ll just know!” From that moment on, I did not write for the grade, I wrote for what felt right or made me sit up straight and lift my hands victoriously. He developed my skill, confidence and my intuition simultaneously.

When I think of how I passed some college classes thanks only to my ability to write well about a topic, I hear his chuckle. When I re-read things I wrote, without remembering the words, I thank him for helping me tap into my subconscious flow. When I get the rare opportunity to feel “boo-ya!” about what I just wrote, that brings me back to his zen wisdom.  I regret that I cannot thank him in person as he unexpectedly passed at a young age right after I graduated from college, and I hadn’t talked to him since high school. 

This year, I found that one of his PHS faculty peers, Frank Barone, created a collection of Gary’s poetry, Two Hands Writing. I bought it on the spot! I shed a few tears, hearing his voice in my mind while reading the words that he so carefully laid out on paper.  While I know our conversation remains one-sided, I feel like we now exist on the same wavelength. To close this full-circle moment, I found a new (to me) writing exercise online that he helped design! Maybe I’ll do that for a future #Blogtober post. 

What about you?
Who do you consider to be your mentor(s)?
Did you have a chance to thank them?
What makes them stand out to you?
What was their best lesson?
Do you pay it forward?
Do you have a great writing exercise I should do?
Do you view your future through a telescope, periscope or kaleidoscope?
Are you doing #Blogtober? If so, share your posts too!

#Mentor #Writing #Teacher #LearnSomethingNewEveryDay #CommunityPool #WritingExercise #PowayHigh #PHS #WritersSeminar #APEnglish #GaryBradshaw #TwoHandsWriting #NotAfflink #poetry #MakesMeWander

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS A FRIEND DID FOR ME

I want to share one of the best things one of my friends did for me. She showed up unannounced in my office, on a really average day, and talked me into training for a half ironman triathlon (1.2 mi swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run). I doubt anyone ever used the word “athletic” to describe me, but “stubborn”? Yes. “Crazy?” Probably. Turns out both of those go far when considering that distance endurance race.  

My crazy (in the best way) friend and me!

While I’d signed up, didn’t train and completed several recent runs, that only gets you so far. I mean, I swam laps one time since high school and biked even less since middle school – and I was 39 racing towards 40. We signed up for the event. She not only committed to being my drafting buddy (meaning she’d be working hard while I hoped to draft off of her), she also volunteered her parents to watch my kids during our swim practices (who were 5 and 9 at the time). It scared the [poo emoji] out of me! I never realized how many expletives I knew until I tried cycling windy mountain roads. 

Riding these distances made my buns numb! WTF! Way Too Fast!

Truthfully, I believed I the weekly Saturday practices would kill me. I actually planned my weeks no farther than Saturday afternoon and used the words “If I survive practice!” because of how far beyond my comfort zone I’d landed. Swarms of coaches brought me back from the edge – and each practice elevated my vibration closer to “Badass!” I really needed that after my divorce.  I dialed in on my nutrition and tuned into my body focusing on the slightest “gut instincts” about what I used to prep or recover from workouts.  Sometimes my body took over forcing naps despite my best efforts to counter with caffeination. Working out 6 days a week allowed me the first and last time I ate ANYTHING I wanted and still lose weight. Between the 2 of us we built a team within the Team to join in this crazy journey with us and were stronger together!  We got to know each other deeply on really raw, intimate levels. Oy!

No photo description available.

I’m the red cap in the back!

As a training exercise, we competed in our first (for many of us) triathlon – an Olympic distance tri. I even confronted my biggest cycling fear (pouring rain)! We also faced down a training weekend where we actually completed the race course of the half-iron tri but over 2 days, not 1 like for race day. I hallucinated several times about 80s movies “I want my two-dollars!” and cartoons “Pikachu!” but I finished!  In the end, my body stepped in and took over again and apparently a danger of getting in shape too fast is that my gallbladder burst 3 days before the big event so instead of being on the course, I was in the hospital. 

But I don’t feel like I missed out. I came away from this event living life on a larger scale with a “Mother (F’ing Crazy)” badge that I bring out when I need to, a pile of life lessons to pour on my kids “What I learned from doing the tri was…” and with life-long friends who are generous (with fundraising to fight cancer and with each other), amazing and just crazy enough to scare me in the best way! 

My friend pulled me out of the life I simply plodded through into one that exhilarated and terrified me but scared me to death and made me feel alive! I don’t know how I could ever repay my friend for this except to consider it again now that I’m 49 racing towards 50! 

wildflower girls

We South Bay girls may look like delicate wildflowers, but…

No, I’m not considering one right now, not even a little 1-sport event. 

What about you?
What was the best thing one of your friends did for you?
When is the last time you challenged yourself?
Are you the type of friend to go with your friend or cheer them on from the sidelines? (Both are valuable!)
What scares you?
What lesson did you learn?
When is the last time you surprised yourself?
Want me to talk you into a triathlon?
If you want to read more about my 2-day hallucinations from my Half Ironman training on the course…

#ChallengeYourself #PushYourself #SurpriseYourself #Midlife #Triathlon #Team #TeamInTraining #Blogathon #Day4 #CraziestIdeaEver #SupportSystem #ChallengeAccepted #YouHaveNoIdeaOfWhatYoureCapableOf #Friends #MakesMeWander

MAKING LIFE SIMPLY DELICIOUS

[📷: betsylife.com]

As a single mom, working a day job and blogging by night, I’m always looking for ways to simplify my routine.  No longer wanting to take the time to window shop, stroll through aisles, collect free samples, and do mini fashion shows in the dressing rooms, I started to notice so many people purchasing boxed subscriptions!  Everything from wine to snacks to cosmetics to books to clothing easily and regularly brighten people’s doorsteps!

You can get FREE sirloin and salmon!!

I recently subscribed to ButcherBox (#ad) and I love how many ways you can personalize the box – from the contents (we chose the beef, poultry & pork box), to the delivery schedule!  The quality of the meats are great and they arrive still frozen and sealed in portioned sizes!

 

Loved that the fruits and veggies came with no signs of a rough trip!

I also signed up for Imperfect Produce (#Coupon – We both get $20 off).  I’ve always rooted for underdogs, including unappreciated imperfectly shaped or sized produce!  These boxes contain a wide variety of selections that you review and personalize based on preference or social calendar! The sizes or shapes may vary, but the flavors and freshness impressed me.

[📷: betsylife.com]

With both boxes, I remained curious and open to adventure! I discovered new cuts of meat or exotic produce that I’ve never cooked with before. This led me to look through my pinned recipes online where I found Betsylife.com. First of all, her beautiful photography and her personal ramblings drew me in.  I felt like Betsy and I were hanging out in her kitchen chilling and chatting! Her posts set the tone but don’t hide the recipes in a long, scrolling blog post (thank you!).

One day I wound up with an overabundance of strawberries and a craving to bake so I tried this beautiful super simple Almond Strawberry Upside Down Cake!

I felt like the best mom ever with love oozing from the tendrils of steam as it cooled near the window sending billows of strawberry and almond scent to my neighbors. I never did get around to sharing the cake. …yet.

 

[📷: betsylife.com]

Impressed with Betsy’s recipes – simple enough for me to pull off, elegant enough that they look and taste like a masterpiece – I wanted to see what else she had up her chef sleeve!  Always looking for fun ways to feed my kids, but knowing their individual pickiness, inability to agree with each other and collective aversion to condiments, I went for the

Obviously, I lack Betsy’s food styling skills!

Individual Oven Baked Sloppy Joes. Super simple to make and how smart is she to make so many fun recipes for 1 when the rest of the world cooks for 2 or 4!  I made it for 3 #easy! Flavorful and beefy enough for one child and easy-to-chew meat for the other!

Alright, now convinced, (and with lots of ground beef because ButcherBox’s deal when I signed up was free ground beef for life – right now YOU could get free Salmon and Sirloin), I realized that my kids don’t mind trying new things if they’re teeny!  For my last dinner and using jalapenos from my Imperfect Produce,

I made Jalapeno Cheddar Juicy Lucy burger sliders (how smart that the cheese is INSIDE the burger?!) with a Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Loaded Potato Bites appetizer! Save this recipe for this week’s big game! 

 

I felt like a real chef with all the ingredients laid out!

Trying Betsy’s new recipes felt fun, creative, delicious – which is way more satisfying that what I usually cook!  I own a row of cookbooks and pinned over 7,500 recipes to my boards, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: I will find new chefs and try at least 4 of their recipes that month! My skills simmer somewhere around beginner but I had so much fun cooking with Betsylife.com and she added a dash of confidence, inspiring me to improvise! 

The next time I made the Strawberry Almond Upside Down cake – for a family celebration – I went extra adding blueberries to the top too! I just cooked it a little longer (because extra berries means extra juice).  Delicious!

What about you?
When’s the last time you tried a new recipe?
Have you tried Betsy’s Life recipes?
Do you have a recipe I should try?
What chef should I check out next?
Do you subscribe to any boxes?
When’s the last time you cooked outside the (subscription) box?

RECIPES:

ALMOND STRAWBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

BROCCOLI BACON CHEDDAR LOADED POTATO BITES 

INDIVIDUAL OVEN BAKED SLOPPY JOES

JALAPENO CHEDDAR JUICY LUCY BURGER

#ChallengeAccepted #NotAnAd for #BetsyLife #JustAnAdmirer #FoodStylist #Recipes #Afflink for #ButcherBox #ImperfectProduce #Jalapeno #Cheddar #burger #slider #strawberry #Almond #cake #broccoli #Bacon #Potato #bites #Individual #RecipesForOne #SloppyJoes #Oven #blogtober #October #cook #Dinner #Lunch #Appetizer #omaginsiders #makesmewander

WWP: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?

What’s your favorite season? Yesterday I would have answered, without a doubt: summer! Summer permeates my being in such delicate yet curious ways. I’m drawn to the water, the hypnotic rhythm of the waves and the journey that they travelled. Beach sunsets wrap any day up in a colorful package, gifting me satisfaction and recharged cells to start again the next day. The relationship of sand and water fascinates me – the millions of tiny pieces that support our weight as we walk upon them and the texture and temperature changes as I dig deeper with my toes or Flashdance until sand becomes quicksand. The smell of the ocean pulls me from any moment I’m walking through, instantly muffling out any city sounds and bringing peace and the image of endless horizons to my mind. I worship the sun (more responsibly as an adult) and feel the lightest when the days are bright and sunny!

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

But, after opening my windows this morning, ready to stare down my computer and face the blog post I wanted to write by today (this isn’t the one), a cool breeze came in through the windows – the winds of change!  They tickle me to move, they itch me to forge a new direction! After daydreaming through summertime, I feel the strength of fall! The loud crunch of leaves after falling from the trees thrill me. I revel in the mystery of each day wondering if the sun or clouds will win. I crave natural textures of cotton cable-knit sweaters, the bark of trees, the ironic strength of squash skins, and I’ve already filled my nose and home with cinnamon pinecones! I want to stretch during fall to get ready for this whirlwind winter season that ends each year and ushers in the new year.

I used to think this restlessness originated from my Gemini birth sign – which happens to be an air sign. I don’t put a ton of emphasis on zodiac and personality tests BUT as an adoptee it does put a fun spin on Nature vs. Nurture. Since I don’t have relationships with biological relatives, besides my kids, it’s hard for me to tell which craziness I created myself or inherited. These Gemini and INFJ definitions also remind me that I’m not the only one in the world wired this way.

Used Courtesy of SprayedOut.com

This fall we’re preparing for more change than I prefer, starting with my son moving to college at the start of the new year. He’s a spring admit and I feel so fortunate relishing a few extra months with him while everyone else already dropped their kids off. I’m also stressing about that first college tuition bill. Although it makes sense on paper, until we get past the first one, I’m really stressed. However, the stress fuels my fire and I’m focusing it towards something that I can impact – my website.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, my new site will soon feature a) More consistent posts; b) More organized topics to make it a better resource; c) Better features and more levels to provide more for those who visit. Now that I yearn to share more of my personal journey and help others plan theirs, I’m creating and planning! It’s exhilarating!

I do look forward to the winter and the many reasons to reconnect with friends and families to reflect on our highlights while wrapping up this year. I anxiously anticipate spring — sending my son across town to college and a new beginning!  While his campus is only 18.2 miles away, that’s just a hair past my reach and .2 miles outside of my comfort zone but I look forward to watching him embrace the opportunities to learn and come into his own. Thankfully, he’s just an uber or metrolink ride away. My daughter deserves a new level of relaxation at home as an only child (which hopefully overrides the fact that her chores just doubled)! With each year older that my kids grow, I cautiously sample a schedule with more freedoms and learn to appreciate my kids in new ways.

So while this season’s winds of change pick up, I plant my feet firmly on the ground, lean into the winds, and breathe deeply! I am ready for the next season. 

 

What is your favorite season?
Do you feel different with different seasons?
When is the last time the winds of change ushered in something big for you?
What defines the fall season for you?
Can you believe it’s nearing the end of the year already?

#wwp #WednesdayWritingPrompt #Blogtober #Day2 #Seasons #WindsOfChange #Changes #WeatherTheStorms #WritingPrompt #SparksOfInspiration #OMagInsiders #MakesMeWander

WHY NOW? WHAT SPARKED MY SEARCH INTO MY PAST?

I keep asking myself: Why now? What made me decide to finally go to my birth country of Korea for the first time at the age of 48 (last year)? 

We wore our hanboks to Gyeongbokgung on the last day of our visit! Felt amazing (and gets you in free!)!

It felt like the perfect storm of Impulse (My 2017 Year of Yes and vowing to experience everything), Vulnerability (My 2018 Year of giving in to feel everything), and absolutely my Mindful Midlife (My 2019 Year of trying not to regret anything). While it looked like a sudden whim, my decision built slowly. Along the way, roadblocks sent me down deadends, speedbumps slowed me down, but I’m stubborn and love a good mystery – I needed to see this journey to the end. Surprises rewarded me along the way.

 

OK, this is a Korean pothole not a rabbit hole, but I loved the pattern!

  • DNA SENT ME DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: When I finally did my DNA to see where my other non-Korean half originated from, I became fascinated by all of my cousin connections!  I read their faces, over-reacting when I noticed any similarities. I’m not really interested in meeting most of the hundreds of cousins, but it amazes me to now see the generations of people that I’m linked to. I’m curious to learn how my ancestors travelled around the globe to wind up where I magically came about in Korea.
    Roadblock: There aren’t that many Asians (from the US and especially not Korea) in all 3 of the big DNA companies: FamilytreeDNA, Ancestry, and 23 and me. The companies are just now trickling into Korea and Korean Asians have their large national ancestry ledger and don’t feel that they need DNA to tell them about their relatives.
    Speedbump: It’s hard to navigate your genealogy as an adoptee because the minute you surprise someone with your existence, they clam up.
    Suggestion: If you’re trying to find relatives, test with all 3 companies and download your raw data into other larger databases.  Many people test 1 time because they are only curious about ethnicity so you could miss large chunks of your genealogy that could be listed in a different database. Leave DNA in the area you’re from. In Korea, the database connects the police departments if there are any matches. Also, enlist professionals – or, as I call them, DNA Angels.
    Surprise: When the Angels got involved, they shot a laser that parted the seas of cousins to find people so fast it made my head spin.

We were able to meet Molly Holt – daughter of Harry Holt who started my adoption agency.

  • INFORMATION OVERLOAD: My neutral attitude towards putting much effort into finding ancestors centered around the number of decades that have passed since I left Korea – not to mention the required language I’d need to communicate what little story I knew. I felt no reason to NOT believe the story in my file and assumed that the record keeping would be poor if files even still existed.
    Roadblock: As an infant found abandoned in the street by a police officer, this enabled me to be logged in the Korean Ancestry Registry – though with a family name given to me by the police. However, no note indicated whether my birth year was accurate, or where I came from.
    Speedbump: Different information existed at the US vs. the Korean Holt International offices.  In some areas, they filled in the blanks from the other file. I learned I’d lived with a foster family and started out as the youngest in the family (before I became the oldest in the family I grew up in). In other areas, the files contradicted each other.
    Suggestion: Ask for all of your files and get translators involved if necessary. Request immigration files through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). I saw pictures I’d never seen and read snippets about my preferences and my day as an infant that shed light on my current behavior and preferences. My inner child wept with gratitude after learning that I’d been so carefully cared for by a foster mother. It also wept at the hint that my history could be woven with that of another adoptee listed in my file.
    Surprise: Turns out one of my files mentioned which orphanage I came through which suddenly changed my birth city to Busan. My file also hid the name of the person who turned me into the agency. A woman.

We learned to make kimchee from a master! I now love fresh and fermented kimchee!

  • MINDFUL MIDLIFE: At the age of 48, I felt an urgency inside sternly warning me that my life would feel wasted if I never visited my home country. Considering all I have and everything I’ve done, perhaps that sounds harsh and even a little selfish. I started to feel as though I lived to meet this society’s markers, but that my life didn’t feel like my own if I didn’t chase after my roots and learn about Korea.
    Roadblock: Korea’s complex culture – they’re just starting to put down the large stigma associated with adoption. The dark veils of secrecy in our adoption files – to help us move quickly into new lives – still hides much of our histories. Conversations are still awkward, and explanations still hazy. It’s unsettling to me when people apologize.
    Speedbump: The relationships that yielded mixed Korean adoptees is vast and still ongoing. It felt shocking to learn the whole history when only searching for my first 8 months. Overall, I’m at peace with the past because I can’t change it. We all harbor  messes somewhere in our families.
    Suggestion: Go when the time feels right. I wasn’t confident beyond every doubt, but failed to convince myself that I should not go. I recognize it’d have been a much different, more superficial and touristy trip had I visited when I was younger or a different crowd, even full-Koreans (who travelled a different historic path towards adoption). I feel like I would most likely have deflected, not absorbed, the impact of my trip back.
    Surprise: Though almost a half-century old, I found my inner child somewhere along the journey in Korea.  I’m now conscious of her existence and learning to care for her.

 

Beautiful Bomunsa temple at the top of a steep hill in Incheon.

In my opinion, adoptees looking for their history hope to answer questions, feel their roots, find their center and perhaps shed light on their purpose.  Of course, family members may be a part of this discovery, but for me, that would be secondary to learning my story. I would love to make connections, to see behaviors and facial expressions, but not in a sense to replace the family I have. This is just my experience, every adoptee’s journey and story is unique and their own to share.

So why now? It’s been a year and I’m finally unravelling and untying the threads of information that connect me to my home country. More than anything, I want to get it out and make sense of it. Though I’ve fully touched my Korean history and feel myself rooted in that country, I still haven’t married my Korean and white sides here in America. When I do Korean things, it still feels like a field trip for me: Spend a day in the life of a Korean woman!

The famous 💩 Emoji cookies and the cafe where you drink out of mini toilets! We stuck with the delicious cookies!

Since October is #Blogtober, and I love me a strong deadline, I’m using this as a means to try to push the rest of the story out! I look forward to sharing more of the surprises and stories with you! It may be slightly messier than usual just to get it out. I appreciate you staying with me through this exercise!

What about you?
Have you researched your genealogy?
Did your family come here from another country?
Have you visited your birth country?
Are you adopted?
Have any additional questions? Ask in the comments!

#Blogtober #Day1 #Adoption #Adoptee #KoreanAdoptee #KAD #MixedKorean #MyHistoryIsAMystery #ancestry #heritage #DNA #family #relatives #writeyourtruth #SeoulSearch #memoir #personaljourney #OMagInsiders #makesmewander

MY FIRST TRIP TO MY BIRTH COUNTRY WAS MORE THAN I EVER IMAGINED

RED EYE TO SEOUL

Red Eye to Korea: I left on 8/29 and arrived on 8/31?!

One year ago tonight, I was on a plane to Korea for my first visit to my birth country in as many years as I’d been alive thanks to Me & Korea and their Hapa Mosaic Tour It’s taken me a year to find words to share my experience in writing because the journey was so much MORE than I expected.

While I immediately squeezed out two pieces for the Korean Quarterly and for the Me & Korea 2018 newsletter, I felt that was talking to a captive audience. But when trying to explain my trip to anyone else, I felt like I was swimming, fighting to keep my head above water, trying to keep sight of the shore but not knowing which side to cling to as the waves of information and memories kept coming.

This trip changed me, I can feel it. Now, I have so much more than I did before.

Sunlit Sisters Center

We traveled to Pyeongtaek to visit the Sunlit Sisters Center, a social club for halmonies (grandmothers) who had been comfort women.

MORE HISTORY
While growing up, a small sliver of me held onto the fantasy that I’d return to South Korea only to find I was a long-lost princess.  Walking through the streets of South Korea with a group representing a living chapter of many countries’ histories felt even better than any Princess fantasy. Right now, I’m fortunate enough that the full span of that history is present as I am able to meet Korean Adoptees (KADs) sent away during the first-wave of adoptions right after the Korean War to those towards the end of this story – as Korean intercontinental adoptions slow down.

Camptown

This was the border of the camptown in Bupyeong. Now a grassy park.

MORE SCARS
Our realities reveal huge discrepancies between what we were born into and what we grew up with – no matter which country we were adopted to. I’m still bothered by the heart ache over what little support exists, even now, for single Korean pregnant women. I want to bang my head over the irony of the national registry that everyone must be on yet that won’t record children if there is no father – unless they were found abandoned in the streets which means they’ll be assigned to one. I’m haunted by the fact that while I was in the USA consumed by the color and excessiveness of wanting my MTV, my birth country was still drowning in a bleak ravenous poverty.

The Statue of Peace - Seoul

This statue speaks volumes and has a 24-hour guard to protect her.

MORE TURMOIL
Turns out as a Hapa (mixed Korean) adoptee I’m a part of multiple layers of a controversy interweaving many countries’ histories – that most refuse to acknowledge. Since the Korean War, there have been Comfort Women in camptowns, the commercial areas adjacent to US military bases in Korea.  These women are government-sanctioned workers there for the enjoyment of the soldiers (to put it as mildly as possible). The media tries to paint a picture that there are only a few left and that the 122 won a lawsuit winning a case against the government, and approximately 57 won small financial restitution so we should all be happy and move on.

This history did not end when the Korean war ended. When I was born in the 70’s, there were still approximately 20,000 women serving 60,000 soldiers (Kingston/Japanese Times).  Another article estimated that it was closer to 46,000 women in 1969 who earned $70 million dollars (Jeffrey/United Methodist Women). Women wound up there for many reasons: those illegally trafficked, those trying to feed their families, perhaps trying to do their part to get more of the US money to help Korea crawl its way out of poverty, or perhaps repaying their own debts. However, the country didn’t consider the by-product of this idea – the mixed Korean babies in a culture strictly valuing pure bloodlines.

Vintage Camptown in Bupyeong

It was fascinating to see that in the past almost 50 decades, not a lot had changed in this area.

MORE COMPASSION
In my heart, I have to forgive the past and, as Oprah would say, give up the hope that it could have been any different. Bottom line, I know I am fortunate to have been the result of one brief encounter that created me. My birth mother kept me for 2 months then I was treated with care as I quickly transitioned from Korea to America. I arrived to a family who welcomed me and loved me. Nobody else can tell an adoptee how lucky they should feel. But I can tell you how it gives my life an incredible feeling of purpose to know that despite the odds that were stacked against me, I’m here.

I also cannot comprehend how it felt or assume how I would have behaved while living through the war, being separated from my family as a teen to fight a battle in a foreign country, or living in a country so poor that giving up a child to feed the others seemed like a reasonable decision. I cannot comprehend the societal pressure that causes someone in the family to turn over their mixed baby to restore stability to their place in society. I grew up in a country with different origins, history and culture than Korea where I almost cannot imagine life any other way and it’s not my place to judge others.

Investigating my roots

L to R: Me, the employee of the Nam kwang orphanage with my 48-year old files on the table in front of him, our translator.

MORE DETAILS
During the months leading up to the trip and while on the trip, I learned more details about my past. I learned that I was from Busan, not Seoul. I learned that I was turned in by a woman – my translators feel this was most likely a relative.  I’d always believed I was abandoned in the streets and found by the policeman as my mass-produced adoption papers stated. I learned that my birthday is correct or super close to what I thought it was. I learned that I grew up as the youngest child in a foster family for a few months. Though there was no way to remember any part of this, I felt like my inner child felt redeemed now that I clung to these tidbits.

DNA sample Seoul Police

The very first day we all left DNA samples in the Seoul Police station

MORE DISTANCE
At the same time, I’m even farther away from my history. Though DNA has overwhelmed me with hundreds of cousins and a thriving family tree, the majority are from my caucasian side. Though I’ve tested with 3 companies, these companies don’t have many people from Korea in their databases. The companies just aren’t commonly represented in Korea. Though, this is starting to change. There are some organizations like 325Kamra that give free tests to Korean Adoptees, nationals and to military GIs.

The women who could be our birthmothers, may not want their families to know that they had a child previous to their current relationship due to the culture that still exists in Korea.  They don’t want their children to reunite with them because their shame for what they did for work, or for giving up their children, is too large to bear. I’m telling the birth moms that your children do not care and simply want to connect with you. Our only string of hope was leaving DNA samples in the police station in Korea hoping that eventually family members will do the same.

A Day in the Life

It was amazing to see how the lives of busy mothers (our gracious host families) in Korea mirrored ours.

MORE LIKE ME
For years, part of my resistance towards traveling to Korea centered around a fear of rejection. I stand out and thought I would be shunned because I’m not full-Korean, I know nothing about being Korean and am an adoptee.  To my relief, there was not one time on the trip that I did not feel welcome. No side eyes, no indirect whispers, no bad feedback to my attempts to bow or greet people in Korean – nothing. I loved that we spent time with adults who lead similar lives. My KAD friend and I spent time with two Korean BFFs who loved to shop and to eat – perfect!  They took us under their wings with gusto and showed us around town walking many store blocks and shoving spoonfuls of food in our mouths.

2018 Mosaic Hapa Tour

So much comfort was found in being surrounded by other beautiful mixed Korean faces!

MORE CONNECTION
The ability to take this journey with other KADs was a gift.  We instantly connected over our mass exodus and desire for information though recognized the significant differences from our childhoods living here and the various routes making up the rest of our lives. I was grateful to have this community of sisters and brothers who understand and get parts of me without any explanation.

DMZ Border of Hope

The DMZ represents a painful separation of families and these ribbons send messages of hope to other family members and hope for reunification.

MORE PAIN
Other people’s energy tends to saturate me so sometimes their pain overwhelmed me. Sometimes I felt guilty that I couldn’t help carry their pain, and that I didn’t experience the same level of loss on any conscious level. We shared stories, we cried to each other, sometimes our crazy family dynamics manifested in wild unexpected ways. It’s a frightening and painful thing to experience that many people feeling so raw and torn open but a beautiful thing to witness at the same time.

Pearl S Buck's typewriter

We owe it to ourselves and to those who come behind us to uncover our pasts and share our truths!  (Pictured: Pearl S. Buck’s typewriter)

MORE PURPOSE
I feel as though I’ve been given this amazing fresh lump of clay to mold and shape into something amazing. So far, I feel the power of our KAD shared truths. The more we “older” KADs talk about our journeys to Korea, our birth searches – if we’ve done them, or even just what it feels like to not relate to our birth culture because we’ve been raised in another one – the more strength and guidance there is in our KAD community.  My new goal is to help others uncover their truth, find peace with what they find and discover their paths in life as well. I’m still shaping my vision for how to do this, but I’m excited and anxious about the possibilities!

Turns out I'm from Busan

Turns out, I come from Busan which is really funny if you know me and fish…

MORE GROUNDED
One KAD explained our transition so well – that we all left Korea by falling through the Narnia wardrobe into fantasy worlds where we grew up, but the minute we step back through the wardrobe returning to our birth country, we return to our inner child at whatever age we left. I’ve learned to sense my inner child and am learning how to care for her. I tended to just stay busy thinking that if I was still moving forward then I must be ok. I have spent my life always moving, adapting and settling into new normals whether self-enforced or by forces beyond myself. Building thick walls to compartmentalize my conflicts while operating in constant survival mode isn’t healthy and wears me out. I’m working on incorporating time to be still for writing or reflection.  My inner child now lives with me after we reunited in Korea.

MORE MYSTERY
For every step I drew closer to my past, an obstacle got thrown in my path. While I had an address in my file that the person who turned me in left as a “home residence,” who knows if the name or the address was correct.  When we drove to the address, the rubble of the neighborhood littered my path. Our early histories are being demolished with the urgent need to modernize Korea.

The trip introduced us to the colorful, bustling Korean culture, Korean and American history, and our individual histories. I look forward to recording the rest of my trip and really diving in to capture every event and every emotion along my journey.  My history is a mystery.

What about yours?!
What do you know about your history – whether you’re adopted or not.
Have you done DNA testing?
Did you have any surprises along the way?
Tell me more!

#koreanadoptee #kad #Korea #Seoul #Busan #Bupyeong #Pyeongtaek #ComfortWomen #KoreanWar #history #Adoption #Adoptee #Camptowns #DNA #Geneology #BirthSearch #MixedKorean #Hapa #MosaicTour #MyHistoryIsAMystery #SeoulSearch #MakesMeWander

CURRENTLY – OPRAH’S FAVORITE THINGS!

As a Californian, it’s sometimes tough to notice the seasons changing and for many years the holidays always sneak up on me. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!  This year, I kicked off the holiday season in the most fabulous way I ever dreamed of!

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I was invited to attend the Oprah’s Favorite Things reveal holiday kick-off party!  The evening fulfilled every dream I held onto since watching Oprah give away her list of Favorite Things for many years on her show and, now, in her magazine. While I was invited to attend the event, the decision to share my opinion, and the opinions given, are always my own.

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I’m so humbled and grateful that three of us #OMagInsiders, Tonya, Rachel and I, received the invitations as a result of being recognized by our peers for our community-building efforts within the #OMagInsiders group. 

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While this VIP invitation rewarded us with many comforts (Thank you O, The Oprah Magazine!!), the most rewarding gift is being a part of this group and celebrating this festive night with the other #OMagInsiders who inspire me and motivate me daily! My excitement grew exponentially each time another O Mag Insider walked through the door to celebrate the with us!

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Everyone’s been asking me – what were your favorites, what should I get? I’ve compiled a list of what I’m CURRENTLY OBSESSING over to help inspire you!

CURRENTLY INSPIRED
As the elevator doors opened on one of the top floors of a high-rise in Manhattan, the excitement of the people in evening attire and the colors of the inviting packages flooded my senses!

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I loved that in the spirit of giving and Oprah’s Favorite Things, we brought children’s books as donations to Books for Kids Foundation. Oprah and I have that in common – I always gift at least one book with every child toy I give! I love the idea of encouraging kids to keep reading hard copy books!

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CURRENTLY CRAVING
The enchanting twinkling city lights drew us farther into the room while inviting us up to Cloud 9 with an endless view of downtown. Delicious appetizers passed by featuring Oprah’s Favorite flavors from sweet to savory!  Savory won me over.

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The Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese – served in mini tart crusts are perfection! The Truffle Burger Kit makes burgers impossible to ignore! To unassuming guests, it’s a juicy mouthful of quality beef until the truffle flavor dances across your taste buds! If you haven’t done a lot of truffle stuff yet, start here. Beef and truffles go together!

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CURRENTLY PLANNING MENUS
I’m following Oprah’s suggestion to make holiday morning french toast using one of Roy’s Panettones. The multi-dimensional flavors and texture melt into your mouth! Red Velvet Gourmet Bundt (other flavors also available) brings on the holidays looking like something Santa would favor – but translates well to every other occasion as well! Bundts are the best because they pack as much cake goodness as possible in a slice!

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Put aside my status as a highly-caffeinated individual – you know that nothing goes better with baked goods than COFFEE! Look at the various options that Nespresso Lattissima One Silky White  indulged us with! …and so easy to use!

img_8595In my other hand, I held a signature cocktail made from Oprah’s favorite Casa Dragones Tequila – now in a size suitable for stocking stuffing!  

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CURRENTLY INDULGING
I rarely make self-indulgent purchases but, after this trip, I’m changing my philosophy. I can’t take my eyes off the clean, bold patterned Tory Sport color-block tracksuit because the pattern commands my attention and accentuates the strength of women. This weekend I’ll be the calmest shopper out there (or online) on Black Friday comfortably navigating sales while wearing fashionable Ultra Lite Caftan.  

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I love the power of scents to help me make sense of my day.  I love the La Chatelaine Deluxe Hand-Cream set because what woman doesn’t love options and a world of possibilities?

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CURRENTLY BEING SCHOOLED
While I always spent money for well-built shoes to train for endurance events, I’m the opposite with my daily wear shoes. Now Oprah’s Favorite Things boasts two footwear options with technology, structure and style to help me outlast my to-do lists. While already partial to the APL: TechLoom Bliss after hearing they were created by twin USC Trojans, I was sold by the sleek elegance of the shoes. The warm red color promoted them from athletic wear to chic wear.  

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My feet eagerly anticipate sliding into my Vionic Gemma plush slippers when I’m finally home for the night. They cradle my foot with the softest fluffy lining topping an orthotic footbed engineered to give my feet a second wind (after I’m finished reading my O Mag).

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CURRENTLY GIFTING
I’m over the idea of gift cards. I love dreaming up gifts that people will (hopefully) love and use – and remember!  I look for gifts that dazzle me like the Rainbow Tumblers – and everything else from Glitterville.com. They’re beautiful and enhance every event!  

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I love the Empowered bracelets because they share six beautiful but powerful mantras you wear on your wrist (without getting it permanently inked).

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The next gift warmed my heart and my hands because we got to hear the history behind these Knitted Faux Fur Mittens and how Oprah’s feedback helped shape the final product.  The Power of O made them happen! Your hands will thank you!

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For my sweetest friend, who invited us to stay at her home on our last trip back east, I left Face to Face Designs Napkins knowing that she’d have a house full of guests this holiday week!  Use them as napkins or bathroom finger towels! 

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CURRENTLY FASCINATED BY
I cannot stop dreaming about this item and while I personally can’t afford it, nor do I have a wall fancy enough to test it on, I’m dying to see this Samsung 2018 X7FN QLED TV in person! When it’s on, it’s a TV – when it’s off, it DISAPPEARS on the wall!?! Please call me for movie night if you get it, I’ll bring the popcorn!

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I love LOVE this idea and wish I’d thought of it first – the Lumos Kickstart Helmets that show lit up blinker signals on the back of a cyclist’s helmet to indicate where they’re turning.  Whether you have 2 or 4 wheels, you’re welcome! #ShareTheRoad

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CURRENTLY RECEIVING HINTS ABOUT
My kids had renewed interest in Oprah and the list that she and Adam Glassman carefully procured when they heard iPhone XRs were on the list.  Maybe I’ll give in for the one leaving for college this fall (let’s see if he reads my blog). Perhaps I’ll buy time with the other child’s current phone by upgrading her ear buds to AirPods.

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Tell me, do you have Amazon Echo Spot in every room of your house to play tunes throughout, or for shopping? Convince me why I’ll love it!

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We waited forever to take an Elevator Selfie!

Whether this was my one time experiencing Oprah’s Favorite Things in person live, or if I ever get invited back again, or I’d even volunteer as a helpful Elf – the evening met and surpassed every idea of what I thought this evening could be.  

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Dream come true to tour the O, The Oprah Magazine offices!

Waking up the next day and finding out it wasn’t all a dream was the best feeling! I love that even on any other year, I still have fun sampling a few things off of her list!

Wanna see the whole list of 107 Oprah’s Favorite Things?!

What about you?

  • Did you splurge and buy anything off of her list?
  • Are you doing #BlackFriday or #SmallBusinessSaturday?
  • Will you be braving the stores or shopping online this holiday season?
  • Which Oprah’s Favorite Thing would you buy if money was no object?
  • Have you considered doing a “Favorite Things” exchange with your friends where everyone exchanges their own favorite things?
  • What are your Favorite Things that you feel should be on next year’s list?
  • Have you checked out the new OprahMag.com – it’s where I live now!
  • Want to subscribe to the O, The Oprah Magazine?
  • Have you seen the special edition “Let It Go!” (it’s like curling up with a good book)!

What are you Currently up to?
Consider these:

  • CURRENTLY AVOIDING
  • CURRENTLY DRINKING
  • CURRENTLY WATCHING
  • CURRENTLY PANICKING
  • CURRENTLY COVETING
  • CURRENTLY COOKING
  • CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
  • CURRENTLY NEEDING
  • Or dream up your own!

#OMagInsiders #OprahsFavoriteThings2018 #OprahsFavoriteThings #OMagazine #OprahMag #OFT #HolidayShopping #BlackFriday #CyberMonday #ShopSmall #SmallBusinessSaturday #MakesMeWander

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A TRIP TRAVELING FULL-CIRCLE

How does one prepare for a full-circle trip when one doesn’t know how much baggage there will be?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be granted the gift of a trip specifically catered to the mixed-Korean – often known as “Hapa” – adoptees (KADs) interested in returning to our birth-country to cement our existence in this foreign country. We’ll spend an amazing 10 days traveling through South Korea with the Hapa Mosaic Tour sponsored by Me & Korea. What a gift to learn first-hand about the culture and our shared and unique histories with other KADs.

As a single mom of two kids, I would never be able to afford this trip, nor have the time to research my past and coordinate everything for such a meaningful trip on my own so I’m incredibly grateful to Me & Korea for sponsoring this mind-bogglingly awesome opportunity. When I first put my desire out into the universe to take this trip last Fall, I never could have imagined that it’d be this soon. I’m a big believer in making our dreams known – it’s the first step to achieving them!

Me & Korea also hosts a full-Korean Mosaic Tour!

After a deposit to commit to this trip-of-a-lifetime, the one expense I needed to take care of – air transportation to Seoul. I figured, for my first trip to my birth country, I must go Korean Air! I love that the flight I booked allows travelers 2 bags so that I may bring a suitcase for my things and an extra for gifts (since they don’t tip in Korea, instead, they give gifts of appreciation) and souvenirs. My sturdy travel companion Lug bag will hold everything I need for my 13 hour direct flights and for the smaller trips where we go overnight to other parts of Korea.

During the flights I’ll spend plenty of time reviewing mental checklists and timelines while hoping that I packed everything I need. Meanwhile I don’t know if I can accurately anticipate the emotional baggage waiting to be unpacked.

CURRENCY ADAPTERS & CONNECTIVITY
Growing up I always felt a nervous vibration under my skin from the combination of being adopted, changing schools often and being an introvert. Too young to call upon words to express such complex emotions, and with no other shared or personal experiences to compare them to, I honestly didn’t believe anyone completely understood me. I just lived despite the feelings not really wrangling the skills to travel through them. Previously, I explained these emotions comparing them to Gwyneth Paltrow’s character living in a parallel existence in the film Sliding Doors knowing that I started life on one path and now existed on a very different one. However, unlike her character, my search focuses not on what I missed, rather figuring out what led up to me switching rails.

In this past year, as I’ve started to connect with other adoptees, and specifically hapa adoptees, that vibration seems so much less noticeable to the point that I don’t even recall exactly how it felt for the previous 40 plus years of my life. I don’t feel like it went away, more like I found other people whose vibrations matched mine. Social media proved its worth to me by taking my sparse landscape of KADs and filling it with 200,000+ others from those in the very first plane of adoptees departing from Korea to the most recent ones. Still, I’m sure that this trip will bring me face-to-face with stories in my head that I’ve dreamed up and those that I could never visualize.

From the USA office of my adoption agency

MAPS & TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
Requesting my adoption paperwork from the Korean and US offices of my adoption agency from almost 5 decades ago felt futile. Surprisingly, it only took them 2 weeks to travel back 47 years to pinpoint and send me photos of my American adoption files. Surprisingly, I moved the pinpoint for the start of my Seoul search 200 miles south as I realized that my birthplace originated closer to Busan – a southern beach town in Korea.

I devoured the information as though I’d discovered a treasure map with hidden paths, mysterious clues and a possible buried treasure. Through tears, I read notes detailing ingrained behaviors, spoken words and eating habits as an infant. It warmed my heart to read the words that someone cared enough to write. I’d never known that I’d stayed with a foster mom with older “siblings!” Before now, I imagined a very sterile vision of my first few months assuming I’d been one of many in a rows of cribs in an orphanage. For the first time, my past reached out to comfort me.

LOST IN TRANSLATION (THOUGH TRANSMITTING LOUD AND CLEAR)
I take everything I read and see in my files with a grain of salt. I don’t read or speak the Korean language. I’ve heard many accounts of adoptees finding a thin lining of distraction in their files – though clarification may be offered when visiting the Korean office of their adoption agency. During peak transnational adoption years, some detail fell away as adoptions were “streamlined” to help get more babies adopted. According to one chart, between the time I was born in 1970 to the time I flew to America in 1971, the number of babies Korea sent away grew from 37 babies/week to 52 babies/week with a peak of 170 babies/week being reached in the mid 1980s before it started to slow down.

To this day, the feelings surrounding these statistics shroud some Koreans in a delicate veil, detailed with bureaucratic formalities and mild mea culpas. I never expected the Korean Consulate General to attend a mixed-Korean event in Los Angeles to issue a formal apology to mixed Koreans and adoptees for sending us away, admitting their errors, offering the improvements and extending their warm, formal invitation to come visit Korea. Personally, I can tell by reading the English-written parts of my file (though I have translators working on a full Korean translation) that perhaps the agency fast-tracked me through the system quickly to parents where one was a doctor so I could receive excellent care for the extensive health issues I had as an infant. For this, I’m grateful.

I am grateful that this tour allows me to retrace my steps!

MY FIRST KOREAN ITINERARY
Though I existed for 8 months before being adopted, the opening scene in my mental reel about my life began at 8 months old. In my mind, someone found, processed and adopted me out within a month. Receiving my Korean adoption files recalibrated that timeline. The paperwork shed light on the landmarks I traveled during my first journey through Korea.

When I had children of my own, I remember looking at them at 8 months old, acknowledging that someone in my past faced an excruciating decision that I couldn’t even bring myself to simmer in for a few minutes. Learning that this actually happened at 2 months old, my mind immediately tried to guess whether this age made it easier or harder. There is no good answer regarding timing or reasons. Second guessing does no good now. I’m grateful for my life, for my unique path and, now, the ability to revisit it.

BEST TIME TO VISIT
Why now? To be honest, the universe knew the right time. Before, I didn’t have the resources or knowledge to navigate such a distant culture and unknown language, nor did I have the money to do a tour that provides such guidance. I felt taking such a large trip would be selfish and, again, the cost prohibitive. I lacked direction! As an abandoned infant, I thought searches for information would be inconclusive.
I needed to get a better grasp of who I am so that my Self isn’t as fluid while on this journey. Every week since learning I’d join this trip presents moments where I’m hurtling towards boundaries that once I cross them, there’s no pulling back. My story and history have the potential of blowing up in the most exhilarating way and it’s important to know that while this does impact me, it (most likely – fingers crossed, knock on wood) shouldn’t change my foundation.

A full list of resources I found helpful coming soon!

TOUR GUIDES
Thanks to computers, I’m fortunate to have KAD mentors – the “Twinsters” film, working a fundraiser for KindredAdoption.org, AKA Dan’s youtube series, reading books, doing DNA tests to learn my other half, joining facebook KAD groups and attending AKA|IKAA events. After finding a welcome place and ongoing dialogues in these groups, I heard enough stories that caused me to ask “What if?”

Meeting adoptees older than me who successfully retraced their steps, I asked “Why not me? Why not now?” Though the process of applying and receiving notice I’d received the grant for this trip took place during a quick window of time, I’ve actually been preparing for this trip for 4 years.

So how does one prepare for this full-circle trip-of-a-lifetime when I still can’t wrap my head around it? After stops in Seoul, I’ll visit the region where it’s estimated I’m from, based on where police found me. Then we get a personal visit where I’ll visit the first location where I stayed before moving to Seoul, others may revisit their childhood home, or meet birth families if they found them. I’ll visit the Korean offices of my adoption agency to see if more information exists. We’ll participate in Korean culture visiting families and learning delicious Korean cultural skills. We’ll visit a Camptown home where many female employees of these camptowns now reside – honestly, these could be many of our birth mothers.

A gift from a friend and fellow #OMagInsider – I take it everywhere to keep copious notes!

Hopefully I’ll return with my children someday soon, but since it took me 48 years to get here to begin with, I want this trip to stand on its own and I want to remember all of the details. I’ll prepare with a fresh journal. I’ll take time every day, sometimes in particular moments and take in every sense – what I hear, smell, taste, see and feel. I’ll take tons of pictures and tons of notes and hope that others do too.

To follow along while I unravel the mystery that is my history, follow my social media!

To help support trips like this or to apply for next year’s trips visit me&korea

What about you:

  • Have you found surprises in your history?
  • Are you adopted?
  • Did you find biological family?
  • Any resources that helped you out?
  • Are you a domestic or international adoptee?
  • Did you adopt?

#2018HapaMosaicTour #meandkorea #325Kamra #KoreanAdoptee #seoulsearch #MindfulMidlife #myhistoryisamystery #halfbutwhole #researchingmystory #Korea #KAD #Hapa #liveyourtruth #sharedexperiences #anthology #connect #personaljourney #lovechicos #omaginsiders #Makesmewander

MY 2018 WORD OF THE YEAR

Every year and every day offers a new opportunity to start over, to learn, to grow, and to be kind – to ourselves and to others. After reading the title of Shonda Rhimes’ book, 2017 became my Year of Yes! [I hope to actually read the full book in 2018 because if the title alone launched one of the most amazing years of my life so far, the possibilities seem powerful]! Spending a year living outside my comfort zone, and at the same time, very much inside my head and heart, helped me contemplate and focus my goals, get in touch with my history and plot new paths for my future. [Cue the confetti and the marching band!] What word would be worthy to follow the Year of YES?!

Truth be told, at the end of the year, I felt like the inside of a spaghetti squash in that every time one scraped the internal surface, a whole new pile of stringy things spilled out all over the place giving a whole lot of goodness, but at the same time, making an even bigger mess. You can dress it up and fool the world into believing it’s as good as pasta, but truth be told, it’s still spaghetti squash. [I think I just nominated a mascot to accompany the Word of the Year!]

My 2018 Word of the Year:

Since I already felt a bit raw after everything that happened in my life and in the country during the last year [Who can relate?! Woo!], I yearned to bring things back to a level that I could control by forming deeper connections with people while also helping others strengthen their connections! To truly connect, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

Honestly, it just felt like the right year to bust everything open for inspection. I’ve always ended my job interviews by bragging about my ability to compartmentalize to ensure employers that my crazy busy home life won’t spill over into the workplace. This skill also helped me cope with yucky situations [aka: loss of control when knocked off track] like my divorce, times where I know I didn’t stand up for my goals, or the literal shit show – the flood of 2015, and put them away in a shoe box in my closet to return some normalcy to my life. By constantly rushing to stay ahead of the discomfort to prove “I’m fine!” I was not present in my life, nor was I living an authentic life. [#FineIsFake]

Now, More than Ever:
a) I’ve stepped into some new circles of amazing people:
Connecting with my tribe of Insiders, my family of Korean adoptees and working to deepen connections with my large circle of family by friendship, I’ve noticed that part of me loves to drop a joke, create a diversion and flee when people get what I deem “too close.” I’m calling my bluff.
b) I’m fixing to celebrate my 50th (in 2020) with an epic mid-life Personal Journey: …As opposed to a mid-life crisis [unless Elon Musk wants to throw a convertible red Tesla at me – even if it has 70 million miles on it]. Since a journey of that size takes time and I’ve already started the ball rolling – why NOT now?
c) I don’t want my quirks to spill over to the next 50 years, or to my kids: I want to contain the crazy to my first 50 years so that my kids can find their own colorful ways to go a little nuts. Plus it’s a great lesson to them that I can identify things in myself that I want to improve then find a way to do it.
d) I’m tired of putting myself last: My health depends on it. So easy for us to say, so hard for us to do, to say we’ll stop putting ourselves last. If you do this, just STOP! No, I have no idea what you and I will do with our scant free time, but let’s start by grabbing a green juice [I meant caramel latte with whip] and we’ll figure something out.
e) I’ve never been one to fight to keep up with the Jones’: That’s served me well, especially as a single parent, because it’s just not going to happen – and I’m fine with it. We want for nothing. …OK, maybe I tried to keep up for a hot second while in college. My son can tell you verbatim [rolling his eyes] about the time I bought myself an expensive watch. After wearing it for a day, becoming totally paranoid and squirmy in my own skin [rather than totally over-the-moon higher than “Fine”], I returned it.

So what does this mean?
Does this mean that as of NOW I’ll be wearing my spaghetti squash heart on my sleeve?… Corner you at the grocery store demanding to know your 5-year plan?… Buck any trends and purposefully go in an opposite direction?… No! I still would love to check out catchy new exercise trends [dance craze], hang out at relaxing travel destinations, or try the newest age-fighting lotions. I’ll admit though, without the help of my #OMagInsider role, I’m usually a late adapter. So, maybe don’t look for the latest trends here, but I’ll tell you what I’m loving right now! You’ll get my in-depth reviews boasting about the obvious fun and the secondary benefits!

The Sparks of Inspiration:
My kids – I don’t think my kids feel I’m any crazier than their friends think their parents are crazy [sorry if that is news to you]. But, before I send the kids into the world, I want to teach them the value of human connections and being connected with your inner self.
Other’s truths – So many of the amazing people that I connected with this year trusted me with their truths and gave me the strength to follow suit.
Brené Brown – Having just dived into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcasts [since Summer 2017 – told you, late adapter…], Brené was the first one I listened to – hoping for a cliff notes of her books since I look forward to hearing her speak in May! Call it a bandwagon or call it a message from the universe. She’s got my ear now, so I will listen.

What about you?

  • Do you have a word or mantra for this year? #OneWord
  • What are your favorite podcasts for personal growth?
  • How do you take Super Soul Sunday? Watch it? Podcasts? Read the Book?
  • Do you have a better answer than “Fine” when someone asks you how you are?
  • Is this me subliminally whining about needing to wean myself off flour carbs?!
  • Do you have a favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes so SS & I can be on good terms?
  • Should I commit to this word and hammer my into a necklace?
    I’m thinking myintent.org

    myintent.jpg

    Click thru for $5 off your necklace or bracelet! It’s meant to be!

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